Homebuyer Counseling An overview of homebuyer counseling services for first-time buyers.

Homebuyer Counseling
Homebuyer counseling is just like it sounds. They work one-on-one with you to help you prepare to buy a home.  They typically work for the same organizations who provide homebuyer education classes. These homebuyer counselors help you identify any challenges or areas you need to address.  Their goal is to help you get prepared and approved for a home loan. Homebuyer counselors will help you craft a personal action plan to become "mortgage ready".  Just like a good coach, they help you prepare for the game of buying a home of your own. They are your personal guide to help and encourage you along the way to your first home.

Homebuyer Action Plan
The homebuyer counselor will assist you to develop and implement an individualized action plan to prepare you to buy a home.  While everyone has different needs and would need a plan unique, the following are some examples of the types of goals that might be in such a plan:

  • Paying off and resolving past due bills
  • Saving for a down payment
  • Paying your bills on time
  • Improving your credit score
  • Establishing new credit accounts (if needed)
  • Closing credit accounts (if needed) 
  • Reducing credit card or other balances
  • Resolving any negative items on your credit report
  • Preparing yourself for the responsibilities of ownership
  • Increasing or stabilizing your take home pay
  • Completing homebuyer education class
  • Completing a fiancial education class

Finding a Homebuyer Counseling
You will most likely find your homebuyer counselor through your local non-profit HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency or through a non-profit organization affiliated with the NeighborWorks America®.

As you are doing this research, remember that it is best to work with staff from a well established non-profit organization that you can trust and that you know has your best interest in mind.  Their primary goal should be to help prepare you to buy a home, but not attempt to sell you a specific home, make a certain loan or other have you buy any other specific product.  

Most experience homebuyer counselors are a very good source of information about local programs and home ownership opportunities available to you. When providing referrals make sure they provide you multiple referrals to lenders, real estate agents or other real estate professionals.

Participation in homebuyer counseling sessions is a great way of ensuring your "mortgage ready" to buy a home before you try doing so. The length of time it takes to complete this step depends on you and your current state of preparation to buy a home. For people who are all ready to buy, they may not need any sessions, while others, who have more long-term challenges to address, may take years. Regardless how long it takes, homebuyer counseling is a great resource to use on your way to your first home.